Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The buck stopped there.

The Word for today:
Ezekiel 20:45-21:32
mark this: Ezekiel 21:2-3
"Son of man, set your face toward Jerusalem, preach against the holy places, and prophesy against the land of Israel; and say to the land of Israel, 'Thus says the Lord: "Behold, I am against you, and I will draw My sword out of its sheath..."
"If only I could see what God is doing, then I'd understand."
Look around you. Everything you see is, directly or indirectly, God's doing.
No matter what we'll see today when we read or watch the news, none of it is news to God.  Whatever happens, God either initiated it or allowed it.
What God initiates.
What God starts is called his direct will.
The tabernacle--portable, purposeful, powerfully pictorial, and perfect--was God's idea, God's direct will.
What God allows.
What God did not initiate, but doesn't stop either, is within the realm of God's permissive will.
The Temple--ornate and unmovable--was David's idea. God went along with it, and even dictated its design, but he did not initiate it.
The suffering inflicted upon Job (1) was also in God's permissive will. It wasn't God's idea in the first place (it was Satan's idea) but God allowed it--within certain parameters which he insisted upon.
What God stops.
There's no technical term for this. We just say that it is against God's will.
Sometimes it is hard to decide whether what happens is God's direct will or his permissive will. But it really doesn't matter, because God claims responsibility for everything that happens.
In today's reading, we find that God will use Babylon as his "sword" to punish Jerusalem for their sins. Did God appear to Nebuchednezzar and say, "Lay siege to Jerusalem; starve them; then attack and burn the city, destroy the temple, and carry the captured into Babylonian exile."
The Bible's answer is that it doesn't matter whether God directly initiated the idea or just allowed Nebuchednezzar's own idea to happen. Either way, according to the Bible, the buck stops with God.
Now we go darker and deeper. If we read Psalm 137, we find out that Nebuchednezzar's Babylonian forces murdered infants by dashing their heads against the rocks. Is that God's will?
The biblical answer is yes, because even that buck stopped with God. But before you begin to hate God, recall...
Recall what good came out of the story of the beleaguered Job. Everything taken from him was restored, even doubled.
Before you begin to hate God, recall this scripture:
But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.  (Genesis 50:20)
God had allowed Joseph's brothers to carry out their evil ideas, because God would use the situation left in evil's wake to save "many"--in this case, an entire nation.
Before you begin to hate God, recall this scripture:
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Satan, Nebuchednezzar and Joseph's brothers had originated evil ideas, which God allowed because he would use these evil situations in his overall plan to create good out of bad.
Evil is all that God was handed after man sinned and brought death into the world.  So if death was all he had to work with, then from death he must make a way.
And that's what he did. He devised a plan--a plan so profound that only God could devise it.  He decided that his only Son would, as it were, be dashed against the stones.
At creation, he'd already made something out of nothing. But now...now he was proposing to make good out of bad; to make life out of death.
The cross of Jesus Christ, the greatest of all 'injustices,' wasn't merely allowed by God. It was his idea, his greatest idea.
Because when Jesus died on the cross, he paid the wages of sin. For everyone who would ever turn to him, he paid the wages of sin, which is death (2). Your wages, and even mine, were paid in full.
The buck stopped there.
(1) Job chapter 1; (2) Romans 6:23

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